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PRC eyes nationwide saliva test rollout by Feb. 1

January 27, 2021 - Wednesday 4:01 PM by PNA

Article Banner Image Philippine Red Cross file photo

MANILA – Senator Richard J. Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), disclosed that they are targeting a nationwide rollout of the saliva reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test by February 1.

The PRC officially launched the new system on Monday after the Department of Health (DOH) approved last week
the use of saliva as an alternative specimen to the nasopharyngeal swab for RT-PCR testing in Red Cross laboratories.

“Our goal is to go nationwide by February 1. Today, we opened our machines in Manila and Mandaluyong for saliva test,” Gordon said in a news release on Wednesday.

He also cautioned that testing is still very important even when the national vaccination program is rolled out, as an inoculated person could still be a carrier and could be infectious.

“You cannot do away with testing. Kahit na meron ka nang vaccine, kailangang magte-test ka. Kailangan may proteksyon ka pa ding face mask. Kailangan may proteksyon ka din ng hugas kamay at distancing because even if you get the vaccine, you could still be a carrier. Pangalagaan natin ang mga sarili natin para hindi tayo makakasakit ng ating mga mahal sa buhay (Even if you have been vaccinated, you still need to be tested. You still need to be protected by a face mask, washing of hands, and physical distancing because even if you get the vaccine, you could still be a carrier. We still have to protect ourselves so that our loved ones would not get sick),” Gordon said.

Medical experts said studies have shown that the Covid vaccine inhibits progression to a severe case of the disease for an inoculated individual.

However, there is no evidence that it could inhibit transmission to another individual.

Gordon said it is also convenient because the patient could even collect the specimen sample while at home and send it to the PRC laboratory.

Patients can also call PRC’s Covid hotline – 1158 to make reservations or book online at https://book.redcross1158.com/.

The PRC saliva RT-PCR test uses the same system as that used with the nasopharyngeal swab samples, the only difference being the method of collection of the sample specimen.

Instead of having a swab inserted into one’s nostrils and throat, one may now simply deposit 1.5 ml. to 2 ml. of saliva through a straw into a container.

The specimen then undergoes testing in the RT-PCR machines.

The new saliva system has the advantage of being far more comfortable than the swab system, which most patients find painful.

It is more cost-efficient, making it more affordable for the population.

Processing of the sample in the testing machine also takes less time, allowing for the release of results in approximately 6 hours to 12 hours.

To date, only the Red Cross saliva RT-PCR test has been approved by the DOH as a saliva-based test. 

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